Disclaimer: Nothing related to Hawaii Five-0 belongs to me. I'm just having some fun with Steve and Danno.


The Ghosts of Christmases Past

By: Vanessa Sgroi

Steve McGarrett sat in his living room, the setting sun casting a myriad of twisted and lengthening shadows along the walls. He sat completely still, second glass of whiskey gripped tightly in his hand as he stared at the Christmas tree he'd purchased just a few days ago on an excursion with Danny and his daughter, Grace.

At the time it had seemed like a wonderful idea, something to brighten the house as well as his mood. He'd gone so far as to string it with white lights the day after he'd brought it home but hadn't had time for further decorating. Now it just seemed to sit there and mock him as Chin Ho's earlier words hammered in his head. His father had been investigating his mother's MURDER. She hadn't died in a tragic car accident at all. Steve raised the glass and sucked in a mouthful of fiery liquid, grimacing yet relishing the burn when he swallowed.

Murdered.

With the shocking news, the feelings of horror and grief from so long ago came roaring back regardless of the intervening years. It combined with the raw grief still plaguing him from his father's recent death. His shoulders bowed as the weight of misery settled more firmly. Steve swallowed the last of the amber whiskey in his glass and closed his eyes for a few moments.

The Lieutenant Commander sat the glass on the table next to the bottle of whiskey and stood, shrugging as if to momentarily unload this burden. McGarrett slowly made his way to the attic where he'd optimistically dug out an old box of Christmas tree ornaments after setting up the tree. He quickly retrieved it and returned to the living room. Blowing off the top layers of dust from the brown cardboard, Steve fought back a sneeze and yanked off the yellowed, brittle tape. He folded back the flaps and delved inside, pulling out a small glass angel with feathered wings. He hung it on a branch and watched it sparkle amongst the twinkling white lights. Returning to the box, Steve pulled out ornament after ornament and laid them on the floor. With the unveiling of each one, the sound of his mother's sweet laughter seemed to echo throughout the house. It was soon joined by the long ago giggles of Mary Ann and Steve himself.

Steve was near the bottom of the assortment when he pulled out a delicate glass bulb etched with tiny silver and gold snowflakes. It was much more simple and plain than any of the others, but it had been his mother's absolute favorite.

Stevie, why don't we hang this one near the top so everyone can see how pretty it is? There. Just look how it twinkles in the light! It's perfect.

McGarrett's grip tightened as the memory exploded out of nowhere and the glass bulb shattered in his hand. Unfazed, he stood abruptly, stalked to his chair, and poured himself another shot. A pounding at the door grabbed his attention before he could knock it back. Tempted to ignore the intrusion, Steve stared into the cinnamon-colored liquid. When the pounding came again, he sighed, sat the glass back down with a thump and answered the door. His partner, Danny Williams, stood on the other side.

"What?"

"What? Is that all I get? I don't get a 'hello' or a 'hey, how are you?'" Danny stepped across the threshold and stood facing McGarrett.

"Did you need something, Danny?" Steve ran a tired hand across his forehead, leaving behind red streaks of blood.

"Did I need—whoa, whoa—what happened to your hand?"

"What?"

Danny grabbed Steve's arm, bringing the other man's hand up to eye level. "Your hand! It's bleeding all over the place." The blond detective gaped at the shards of glass protruding from several lacerations.

Steve glanced quizzically at his hand, not yet registering any pain. "Oh."

"Oh. That's all SuperSeal can say is 'oh'," muttered Danny, mostly to himself as he hurried to Steve's kitchen. He grabbed a dish towel off the counter and returned to McGarrett's side. "How'd you manage to do this?"

"It'll be fine."

Danny rolled his eyes. "It's not gonna be fine. Those pieces of glass gotta come out, and I think you're gonna need stitches." The detective wrapped the white terrycloth around Steve's hand, his touch surprisingly gentle. Red immediately began to seep through the cloth. "C'mon, big guy, off to the ER we go."

H50 * H50 * H50

Steve winced as the resident tugged the last of the glass shards free. He watched the man irrigate the wounds, red turning to pink as the water cascaded into the metal bowl.

The doctor had just thrown the first stitch when Danny spoke from the corner where he was standing. "So you wanna tell me what this is all about?"

McGarrett's eyes stayed fixed on the thread pulling the edges of one laceration together. "Not really."

"Let me rephrase that. You ARE going to tell me what's going on."

Steve turned his attention to Danny, fire flaring in his eyes.

Ignoring the look, the detective continued on, "You're going to tell me because that's what partners do. They trust each other enough to talk. And if they don't trust each other, they have no business being partners." Danny's pronouncement ended on a growl.

McGarrett's gaze locked on Danny, the fire banked. "Fine." His gaze flicked to the young resident and back. "Later."

With a nod, Danny crossed his arms, tucked his hands under his armpits, and leaned back against the wall. He and Steve both watched silently as the doctor finished his ministrations and left the room. A nurse bustled into the ER treatment room fifteen minutes later with prescriptions for antibiotics and painkillers and discharge instructions in hand.

H50 * H50 * H50

Danny watched Steve fumble with his keys as he tried to get them in the door, the recent dose of painkillers obviously making his movements slow and uncoordinated. Grabbing the keys from the stubborn former Seal, he muttered, "Here let me do that." The blond quickly unlocked the door and guided his partner inside and to the couch in the living room. Once the other man was settled, Danny dropped into a nearby chair and said, "So, I'm listening…"

Steve opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again to speak and yet hesitated. He ran his good hand down his face in hopes of clearing away some of the encroaching fog. "I…I just found…" He stopped and took a deep breath. "Shit. Remember when I said my mom died in a car accident…"

"Yeah…"

"I just found out…Danno, I just found out—Chin told me earlier—it wasn't an accident. She was murdered." McGarrett went on to try and explain what he knew, but as the painkillers tightened their hold, the explanation became more and more jumbled and random.

Finally, Danny threw up his arms and called a halt, urging Steve to go get some sleep. "Whoa. Okay, that's enough. Everything will still be here in the morning, right? So go to bed. We'll talk again tomorrow and see where we can go from here." He picked up the whiskey bottle and shook it, the liquor sloshing from side to side. "Oh, and no more of this—not with the antibiotics and painkillers, all right?" He helped his partner up off the couch and pushed him in the general direction of the bedrooms. "Go. I'll let myself out."

McGarrett murmured in acquiescence, waved distractedly in Danny's general direction, and walked away, swaying slightly in his drug-induced stupor.

Once his partner was out of sight, Danny sighed and ran his hands down his face and through his hair, mussing the slicked back blond strands. Now he knew why Steve had looked haunted and shell-shocked when he'd left Five-0 headquarters earlier in the day. He felt bad for Steve, knowing the sudden knowledge must have turned his world upside down.

Looking around the living room, Danny spied the box on the floor. Walking to it, he squatted down and peered inside, immediately noticing the crushed glass and drops of blood. Shifting his gaze, the detective took in the rest of the ornaments resting on the floor. He quietly gathered them up and placed them all back in the box.

H50 * H50 * H50

Steve woke to a fierce throbbing in his hand and a headache ramping up behind his eyes. Groaning, he rolled over and sat up, only to hiss when his bandaged hand accidently banged against the nightstand. Pulling his injured hand protectively toward his chest, he stood, rubbed sleep from his eyes with his good hand, and shuffled to the bathroom. After relieving himself and washing his hands, he splashed some water on his face, relishing the cool water on his face.

Steve wandered into the living room and stopped in his tracks, staring in astonishment at his completely decorated Christmas tree—simple shiny red bulbs and silver tinsel hung from nearly every branch. He blinked several times thinking the remnants of the painkiller were messing with his mind. Steve perused the room, zeroing in on the box he's pulled from the attic the night before. A folded piece of paper sat on top of the box. Next to it were two opened prescription bottles. He walked to the box and picked up the note.

Thought maybe we should stick with plastic ornaments for the time being. We'll talk.

D.

P.S. Take your pills. Yes, both of them.

P.P.S. I'll sic Kono on you if you don't.

McGarrett found himself smiling ruefully. Shaking his head at the very effective threat, he reached for the pill bottles and carried them with him into the kitchen so he could get a pot of coffee going after he downed them.

He definitely was still getting used to the idea that he had friends who actually cared—who made up a new family in all the ways that truly counted.

FIN